While attempting a nap in my hotel room in Tegucigalpa the other day, I overheard a British backpacker down the hall ask the owner of the hotel what was going on in this country. I thus accepted that the nap attempt was over, acquainted as I was with the acoustical setup of the hotel and the longwinded pedagogical tendencies of its owner, who had been especially thrilled with the arrival of a traveler from France the week before and the ability to invoke French revolutionary models of executing traitors. Proposed Honduran traitors had incidentally not included General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, who had assured ousted Honduran President Mel Zelaya that the coup against him was simply a matter of business and nothing personal; other matters of business included the increase in minimum wage by which Zelaya had traitorously rendered workers slightly less disempowered.
The British backpacker was treated to a new revolutionary theme, in which resistance to the coup regime of Roberto Micheletti was being funded by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. In my hotel owner’s view, the FARC was paying Nicaraguans and Salvadorans to pretend that they were Hondurans opposed to military coups, although he did not explain why the organization did not use its funds to pay its own guerrillas to pretend they were not starving in the Colombian jungle. Also not accounted for in the current theory was why a participant in last week’s anti-coup marches in Tegucigalpa had explained to me that marchers would not respond to police beatings by beating up police based on the principle that “we are all Hondurans.”
Confirmation of my hotel owner’s theory nonetheless emerged in El Heraldo’s front page headline of August 14 announcing that the FARC financed a Honduran political party in addition to Honduran workers. The subheadline specifies that this particular allegation is courtesy of coup President Micheletti, although the fact that it is merely an allegation does not appear to cast any doubt on the factuality of the headline. Similar tactics are employed by other Honduran periodicals, as evidenced by a La Tribuna headline of August 15 announcing that Bolivia had just declared Evo Morales president for the next 50 years. Perusal of the article reveals that its author might have done well to include a subheadline specifying that a Bolivian citizen who did not possess the power to determine the length of the country’s presidential terms merely thought Morales should be president for the next 50 years.
As for El Heraldo’s front page announcement of the FARC’s financial contributions to Honduran politics, the corresponding photograph features Honduran riot police hiding behind their riot shields while a single man in jeans and white tennis shoes across the street prepares to throw an undetermined object, not in the direction of the police. The man is standing near a camera crew who are filming the launch; the caption to the picture addresses not the role of the media in political strife but rather the role of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who is reported as having caused the violent breakup—including beatings and tear gas—of a peaceful protest. Chávez is thus shown to now be responsible for Honduran police violence, as well, while more traditional Venezuelan roles are highlighted in a La Tribuna article from last week proclaiming the detention of 25 anti-coup protesters, one of whom was denoted as Venezuelan despite his insistence that he was from Colombia.
At my hotel in Tegucigalpa the other day, the owner drew my attention to televised news coverage of elementary school students holding signs saying they wanted to learn how to read, a reference to suspensions of classes by teachers potentially being funded by the FARC. The issue of how the students made the signs without knowing how to read suggests that they, too, might be funded by outside forces.
First published in Narco News, 18 August 2009